Hemispheres Magazine—February 1, 2015
When reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant injured his right foot during a mid-October preseason practice, the Oklahoma City Thunder announced that the superstar forward had suffered a Jones fracture, which would require surgery and sideline Durant for six to eight weeks. Sportswriters across the country immediately rushed to place calls to medical experts, and soon stories were popping up like the one written by Anthony Slater, NewsOK.com's Thunder beat writer: "Kevin Durant Injury: What Is a Jones Fracture?"
As Slater explained, a Jones fracture is a break of the fifth metatarsal—the outermost bone of the foot, which ends at the pinkie toe—near where everyone has a small bump at the foot's midpoint. (The injury was eponymously named back in 1902 by Dr. Robert Jones—who suffered the break while dancing—but remained obscure for more than a century.) Thanks to Durant, who missed 17 games and returned to action on December 2, the general public learned quickly about the injury and its ramifications. Even seasoned athletes were mystified.
"I'm so old that when you got hurt they didn't have names for it," says NBA Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley. "They come up with names for injuries now. Back in my day [they'd say], 'Oh, he broke a foot.'"
Durant’s Jones fracture isn't the first time the sports media has felt the need for an explanatory article.
"There's obviously a real thirst for this information among the fans and the public," says Dr. Struan Coleman, the head physician for the New York Mets. Coleman and his colleagues at Hospital for Special Surgery have prerecorded short informational videos for the Mets' TV network in which the physicians explain common injuries, showing magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and X-rays and detailing the players' expected period of absence. Advances in medical imaging technology have enabled physicians to more accurately diagnose—and discover—injuries. MRIs used to be so costly that they were reserved for serious injuries. "Now everybody gets an MRI," Coleman says, "so we can tell exactly what the problem is."
Who knows? If Durant comes back to bring Oklahoma City its first major sports championship, maybe Dr. Jones will be supplanted. Perhaps the injury will become known as a Durant fracture.
This story originally appeared at hemispheresmagazine.com.